For Whom the Bell Tolls: Warning Signs of Current And Future Pandemics | Avneet Singh

The bell tolls: a slow prolonged ringing of the bell at a funeral.

For Whom the Bell Tolls: The popular novel by Ernest Hemingway set during the Spanish Civil War. “No man is an island… for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee”. The funeral bell also reminds us that we just lost a part of us.


Who Cares?

There were several warnings of the COVID pandemic, but they were not heeded.

As far back as late November, U.S. intelligence officials were warning that a contagion was sweeping through China’s Wuhan region, changing the patterns of life and business and posing a threat to the population”

source: ABC News.

Researchers published a paper in 2006 in an international journal talking about the danger of humans acquiring coronavirus from bats. The Atlantic published a detailed article on this: ‘We were warned’.

Journalists and whistle-blowers are our early warning systems and they are routinely silenced in many countries. Muzzling of journalists and whistleblowers meant that we didn’t have the speed and independence that citizen reporting, open-source journalism, and social media gives us.

The politicians don’t care as they are self-centered and making too much money.

The governments don’t care because they have a monopoly and know they won’t be thrown out for incompetence. Politicians come and go, but the governments stay.

The people don’t care because they are busy in pursuit of the seven deadly sins: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride. People don’t want to be told there is a crisis tomorrow, they just want to think about the party today evening.

“[The Pandemic] is not unexpected… But knowledge is not enough. Someone must do something about it… Chinese scientists very quickly identified the virus that was causing the illness, sequenced the genome, and by January 10 made all the relevant information public… The US suffered a triple blow: capitalist logic, the savage neoliberal variant of capitalism, and a government that has no concern for the population”:

– Noam Chomsky.

No one cared because everyone had their snouts in the trough and their 2 front trotters as well. Everyone is making too much money, and getting too much pleasure from exploiting planet earth. Any warning signs are seen as an annoying nuisance that is best ignored.


Unhealthy Economy

The economy was a bubble and ready to burst at the smallest sign of trouble. People, small businesses, large corporations, and local governments continued to survive because of record high levels of cheap debt.

Peter Schiff, President of EuroPacific Capital said:“If it wasn’t the coronavirus, it would have been something else”. Economies crash because “we have so much leverage, we can’t survive an economic downturn when you have a disruption of your cash flow”.

The warning signs of a bubble economy were also conveniently ignored.


Future Crises and Pandemics

There are warnings today about more pandemics and the coming climate crisis which will dwarf the COVID pandemic.

About 29% of birdlife in USA has disappeared since 1970.

The May 2020 cover of National Geographic says “Insects are dying at alarming rates. That could be disastrous for the planet”.

Birds, bees, insects are dying. The water in glaciers is disappearing. The seas are full of plastic. Bio-diversity is crashing. Pollution is rising. Genetically Modified crops are everywhere. The largest Locust swarms in 70 years are swarming over 7 African countries.

It is naive to think there will be no consequences of this.

Here are other potentially catastrophic events waiting to happen:

  • More pandemics from new zoophytic viruses from environmental destruction. “It’s like if you demolish an old barn then dust flies. When you demolish a tropical forest, viruses fly. Those moments of destruction represent opportunity for unfamiliar viruses to get into humans and take hold”.
  • Diseases jumping from animals to humans in over-crowded factory farms. “But we also have to remember that some of these epidemics have started with viruses jumping from domestic animals in awful intensive farms, where the conditions are horrendous, with crowding and poor hygiene”.
  • Leaked germs from government labs in USA and abroad
  • Nuclear war due to escalating regional tensions and mini-wars could trigger global nuclear winter
  • Viruses from the past frozen in permafrost(zombie pathogens) and released due to climate crisis could trigger new diseases
  • Solar flares(potential to wipe out civilized life and take us to the dark ages)


Call To Action

The COVID-19 is probably the greatest lesson in modern history of the value of freedom of expression, whistle blower protection, and limiting government authority. The world would have been informed much earlier of this pandemic if the researchers, whistleblowers, and journalists had freedom of expression and whistle blower protection. It would have saved hundreds of thousands of lives, saved trillions of dollars, and prevented the suffering of billions.

Journalists and whistleblowers all over the world are routinely silenced. They are our eyes and ears of events that affect us all. They must be protected, and can be protected for a relatively little cost.

The preventive actions are simpler and cheaper than the cost of dealing with another pandemic over the next 10 years. If 1-3% of the money intended to stimulate the economy now is spent on ensuring basic freedom of speech, improving government transparency, increasing whistle blower protection, reducing environmental destruction, reducing species loss, fighting pollution, then the chances of another pandemic will be reduced.

The Think Tank Brookings Institute estimated in February 2020 an “additional $3.4 billion annually for pandemic preparedness. At first blush, this price tag may seem like a heavy lift. Yet it pales in comparison to the massive economic costs of inaction”.

We can no longer ignore erosion of freedom of speech, lack of government transparency, silencing whistleblowers, mistreatment of animals, environmental destruction etc.

The bell tolls for the death of billions of birds, animals, insects, fish, bees, wildlife; environmental destruction; and death of free speech that we have conveniently ignored. We will be next.


Voice of Mankind is a non-profit Think Tank working to influence public opinion on issues that affect us all. We are here to make sense of this changing world.


Photo by Jacques Lebleu on Flickr.

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